AP English Lit Winter Break Assignment

ap lit novels

All 12th Grade AP Lit students need to post comments here over the break about their chosen novel: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, My AntoniaBless Me, Ultimathe Kite Runner, or Slaughterhouse Five.

  1. You must post at least one original comment (at least a paragraph in response to the novel). **Make sure to specify which novel you’re referring to.
  2. You must also comment in response to another student’s post about the same book.
  3. Use this as a place to ask questions, share online resources or seek for clarification about the book.

Keep comments, academic appropriate and book-related. Mr. Nittle reserves the right to delete any off-topic or inappropriate comments.

All comments are due Friday, 1/17/14!

For the writing assignment related to the book, click to download the file: AP Lit Winter Break Assignment.

45 thoughts on “AP English Lit Winter Break Assignment

  1. I am reading Slaughterhouse-five by the author Kurt Vonnegut. There are a couple things I found interesting about this story. First of all, there is an entire paragraph in another language. So i felt the need to go right ahead and translate it and this is what I got “From the dome of the Frauenkirche I saw this unfortunate Trummer between the beautiful Stadtische order hineingesat; since I ruhmte the kuster the art of the builder, which Kircheund had already set up on a case so unwanted and bombproof built dome. The good sacristan then pointed me to Ruinene on all sides and said laconically questionable: the HAS done the enemy!” (page 18). Tha clears that up. Another interesting observation I had the fact that the narrator is writting sa book all about the war in Dresden but he dispites everything that contributes or makes a part in the war. He would restrict his son from working in factories that produce war weapons. Also, when he went to visit his old friend Bernard and Mary O’Hare. Mary felt very uncomfortable about the book the narrator was writting. She felt as if the media promoted war, more than saying the reality of its horrors. I was doing some reaserch and I found out that the title Slaughterhouse-Five was the name of the camp where Kurt Vonnegut was placed in during the war.
    So this describes the story of a veteran writtitng about his expirience and living the life of well, a veteran. Then, a twist is created when they begin to talk about Billy Pilgrim who can travel in time and he lives his life repetedly. He never knows when in time he will land. He has to go through his birth again but also through his death. The part that confuses me the most is when he makes the transitions between charachters, it gets tricky.

    • Thanks for the intriguing response, Veronica, particularly the attempt at translation 🙂 You’re right that Vonnegut jumps around alot, playing with time, place, and reality. While this book is inspired by his war experiences, he takes several absurd sci-fi leaps. What stuck out to me was Billy Pilgrim’s time in a Tralfamadore zoo, not as a visitor but as an exotic species on display.

      • I know right? That was a little freaky, they forced him to mate with the famous actress. Its also weird how he always repeats “So it goes”. I still dont understand why he does that. Mr.Nittle how do I reply to people if nobody even posts anything?

      • I forgot about that part… Yes, “So it goes” appears throughout the novel, a kind of refrain, but also as a way of commenting on mortality, perhaps…

        Don’t worry, Veronica, you’re covered for posts (one post, one reply to me).

      • To Veronica. Billy is a character created by Kurt Vinnegut and Kurt was going to make a book about Dresden but since Mary got mad at him because he was going to promote war he later decided not to make a book about Dresden and so he created the story of Billy which is now Slaughterhouse-Five. The story jumps around because before the story talks about Billy’s life you already know what he went through the war and since he went through that he came back with a mental disease but it was not PTSD and so then the story begins with him warping through time and meeting the Tralfamadorians.

    • The translation was what I need thank Veronica .. And yep it crazy about him going back to his past then present .. But that what keep me reading now 🙂

  2. Yea I thought there was a different meaning to it? Like he was referring to his statement as made belief.

    Thanks, Mr. Nittle.

  3. HI. Well I have read the book My Antonia by Willa cather and I thought this book was kinda of interesting. This is because its about this boy name Jim Burden who has a strong friendly relationship with a girl name Antonia. She is a girl who came from Bohemian and speaks no English. Even though time passes and the two of them don’t see each other as usual their friendship never changes.

    • How do you think Antonia’s marriage affects her relationship with Jim? The fact that got pregnant before she was married seemed to cause conflict with her family, but Jim didn’t seem to change his view of her. How does she contrast with Lena?

      • I think the fact that she got pregnant before marriage made jim a little bit disappointed of her because he though that she was going to do something better with her life. Lena is the country girl that everyone though she wasn’t going to be successful but she made it by learning how to make clothes. Evryone though that lena was going to marry very soon and they had big hopes that Antonia was going to be successful.

      • Yes, good points, Jenmy. Everyone’s expectations were challenged, with Jim, Antonia, and Lena. Their lives turned out very different than they or others would have planned… Often what we expect doesn’t turn out to be reality (both for the good and the bad).

  4. I read the book Mi Antonia. At first it was really boring but once I got into the book I started to like it. This book is mostly about a guy named Jim Burden and Antonia but its also about other kids that grew up around him. This book focuses on their lifes as how they grow up and on how they build their lifes as adults. It starts when they are like 10 years old and ends when they are like 30. It shows the decisions they make in thier lifes and how it affects them in thier future.

    • Why do you think Jim decided to move to New York, instead of staying in Nebraska? Also, how was Antonia’s life affected by her father’s suicide? Even though it has a slow start, there are some pretty heavy stuff her. Do you think Jim should have chosen Lena or Antonia? In the end, who did he end up with?

      • Jim decided to move to New York because in Nebraska he was slacking off with Lena. Antonias fathers suicide affected her a lot because she had to do the men work with her brother Ambrosch to provide for her family. She did not have the chance to go to school because she had to help out in the farm. Therefore she grew up with a different mentality. I think Jim should have chosen Lena because in the end she was successful on her own with no husband and no kids. In the end Jim did not end up with Lena or Antonia.

      • Interesting that you think Jim should have chosen Lena. I believe most readers would think the “love story” should end with Jim and Antonia (like the title suggests). But you’re right, in the end, he walks off into the sunset alone…

    • Yeah, I think it’s funny how we’re so used to assuming how the book would end. From what I understand so far, the ending of the book isn’t cliché. Plus, the story of the book can relate back to real life situations since there’s no one to tell you what’s going to happen next or how it’ll end.

  5. Hi! I’m reading slaughterhouse five at first it was really boring that 5 pg knock me sleep , but anyway it getting crazy and wierd because billy seem to go back and forth from during world war to after war where he was successful and rich.. It hard to understand about the Time travel that he went through in a blink of eye.. Also it funny about the “Tralfamadore stealing thing from Sears Roebuck to make a habitat environment for billy at there ZOO.

    • Good points about the time travel, and the jumping around feeling “crazy” and “weird.” This is one of the characteristics of “postmodern” literature, which this book would qualify as. This is an example of “fragmentation,” fracturing or breaking up the continuity of the plot. Nothing moves in a straight line, but rather has many interruptions, detours and changes. Things seem disjointed or disconnected, because in reality that’s how life is, according to postmodern theorists and authors. They’re trying to capture it on the page. Think about a typical conversation between a group of people, for example, and all the interruptions that break it up from being a clear “soliloquy;” however, that doesn’t mean that there is not still meaning or understanding.

      See more about postmodern literature here:

      • Yea i totally understand when it got boring in the beginning, because it takes time to catch the flow of the book. I actually had to reread the first part a couple of times because I just didn’t get the transitions of it going back to war, his present, and his family life. It is actually a way of writing that seems as if you were thinking of it. The transitions seem like flashbacks to him.

  6. Sup guys! I am reading Slaughter House-Five and first off I’ll like to say that this book is trippy but actually interesting to read. As I am finishing up reading the book, I came across an interesting connection. This story reminds me of the movie Forrest Gump (which is an awesome movie!) for numerous reasons. The first obvious reason is WAR, Billy is a war veteran from World War II and Forrest is a war veteran from Vietnam, each of the share their experience in the war. Another reason is that they both are not taken seriously, Billy is taken as “coo-coo” because of this mystical encounters and Forrest is taken as “stupid”. The third reason which is also semi obvious is that they both go through different events of their life and then snap back to reality, except that Billy travels in time unexpectedly and Forrest is reminiscing. Last but not least, these two have moral lessons behind each scene, whether it’s about life or war. Let me know if you guys see this connection too or any other connections for that matter.

    • Interesting connection, Veronica! I never thought of this before; good specific details. Another film that was mentioned in class today by one of the other groups was ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,’ another postmodern film. Both that film and the book skip around in time, are metadiscoursive (meaning that they comment on themselves) and they break the rules of story-telling. Any other postmodern stories/films?

      • Thank you! and i have not heard of that film but i will surely check it out. For the mean time i do not have another story/film but if i think of one i will definetly share it!

  7. I love the insanity behind Vonnegut’s mind, the way he has an understanding of what it is like to kill someone. Not only does he have an understanding of how people with power work but he is able to understand what people contemplate in terms of death. For example, on page 109 when he words, “Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected.” It is well said that people with connections can cause a chain of unfortunate events to befall on someone whom has killed a person with connections. It is like killing the head of the mafia and then the others coming after the murderer. It makes one think that Mr. Vonnegut has worked out a murder and takes options into consideration, it’s a complicated thought to process.

  8. So the book I’m reading is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I like the story because it skips around in time. It reminds me of the film, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” since both characters from the book and movie, (Billy and Joel) travel through time. Also, I think it’s pretty strange how Billy always says “So it goes.” after someone’s death. And the last quote of the book is “Poo-tee-weet?” Which is also strange.

    • Hello Samira! Well I think that the birds symbolize death. Like for an example, whenever we hear about news of someone’s death or massacre (described in the book), there’s no such word we can say about it but to keep silent and feel sympathy. Except for the birds who are always chirping “Poo-tee-weet” wherever we go. Hope this help you!

  9. Pingback: AP Lit/Lang Essays | Mr. Nittle

  10. First of all I’m reading a great novel written by Rudolfo Anaya. Bless Me Ultimate has been a drastic and a book I can relate too. This book has dreams and flashbacks that are related to Latin American culture. While reading this book I relate to the ideas on how people can make their own future and the main character Antonio reminisces how his life lessons changed his view on situations. I am not done reading the book but I plan on finishing this great book

  11. Well, I read the Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. For me, the book was pretty interesting but at the same time it was confusing especially when Billy Pilgrim started to time travel. However, what I liked about the novel were the meaningful themes that can apply into our lives. The framed prayer in Billy’s office, for example, it talks about how he wants “serenity to accept the things,” he cannot change, “courage to change the things” he can and “wisdom to tell the difference” (60). The book says that these “things” that Billy could not change were the past, present, and the future. Similarly to our lives, we need to move on from our past to face the present in order to go on for our future. Another theme was the belief of the Tralfamadorians that Billy learned in Tralfamadore. They said that in life, we need to forget the bad times and concentrate on the good ones. This remind me of a saying, “Live your life to the fullest.” We don’t really know when would be the end of our life. So, we need to spend our time with our loved ones sharing moments that we can keep and treasure for the rest of our lives. Besides of these themes, there are other lessons from the book that are seem symbolic to time, death, destruction and etc. For instance, I think Paul Lazarro symbolizes revenge for he mentioned that it is the “sweetest thing in life” on page 139. I hope this will help you guys! 🙂 Oh yeah by the way, I have a question, does anyone of you also think that Billy is gay? Because in page 70 the quote goes like this: “The queer earth was a mosaic of sleepers who nestled like spoons… Billy Pilgrim nestled like a spoon WITH THE HOBO on Christmas night.” Haha! What do you guys think? Check it out! Thanks!

    • I don’t think he was particularly “gay” because he has a wife, a mistress, a daughter from the wife and a baby from the mistress. I know others would think that “oh gay people can have kids too but doesn’t change the fact that he’s still gay.” Well in the quote where it said how people “nestled like spoons” which i believe meant “sleep side by side”, since the place was crowded and cold, people had to lay very close to each other to feel comfortable or else you’ll freeze to death. I guess it was just a coincidence that he had to sleep beside a hobo, and did not specifically chose that space. 🙂

  12. I honestly haven’t finished reading Mi Antonia, but I’m halfway there. As of right now, the book has made it’s way from simple to more intriguing. I really enjoy how the author goes into details on certain events and isn’t vague about any of the descriptions mentioned. In addition, I like how the author makes everything connect and doesn’t jump from one time and event to another. I’m excited to finish the book and see how the story comes to an end.

  13. Hello! The book I read was Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. First of all let me say I can to relate to everyone else thinking the book was bizarre, crazy and confusing. I actually really like the Tralfamadorians part, because of the way they view time (even though I know the whole alien part wasn’t much of a real thing). I find it pretty interesting how they view death, that someone still is still here, in the past, present and future. Another thing that stood out the most was how Billy was selfish through most of the book. It might relate to the fact that he was part of the war. People throughout the war lose the sense of what is too far already. One example would be him marrying Valencia just because of the money. He had already said he didn’t want to marry “ugly Valencia.” Over all the book was pretty intriguing, and it kept me reading. This by far the most bizarre book i have ever read .

  14. The novel I read was Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I found this novel interesting on how Billy got from places to places having to deal with different emotions depending on which part of his life he was in. I had some questions to what happened to the famous women with the Tralfamadorians and to her and Billy’s baby. I would understand if other readers would have questions about the novel because of how it was written and the whole thing about Billy being with the Tralfamadorians was. The novel kept me on reading because I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next in the story so it I was interested in knowing more.The stories were scattered in the novel but it was great and would like to read another novel from this author.

  15. Is this comment thread exclusively for slaughter house five? Because I can’t find separate discussions boards.

    Well anyway, has anyone read the kite runner?

  16. The novel I chose to read was Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The story jumps around from different time periods in the life of Billy, there is no chronological order. And while that was a bit confusing when reading the novel it was what made it so intriguing. Throughout the story you learn about different theories Billy had. My favorite was the one about death and how death is only one moment in a persons life, it is no bigger and holds no greater importance than other moments. Not only does this novel present a captivating philosophy but the entire time travel aspect keeps your interest piqued. I am definitely going to read this novel again, there are still questions I have about certain parts in the story.

  17. Alright, well anyway,
    I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini……

    First of all,
    daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang, I have to say that book was serious mindblow. I was debating whether or not I should read Slaughter House Five since it’s a shorter book, but for some reason I felt attracted to this book. Although I recently finished the novel, I am glad that I chose to read it.
    “The Kite Runner” had very dark themes to it such as rape, abuse, infidelity, life-changing lies, and also not forgetting to mention the cruelty and insanity about the cruelty of war and Theocracy in Afghanistan. A quote in the book really resonated in me, “In Afghanistan there are many children, but little childhood”. In the shape that Afghanistan is in now, it is highly plausible that this is the case in many Afghan children. This book made me experience the hardships of war, and it’s effect on others that many of Afghanistan’s civilians have to live through everyday. This book was real roller coaster, and I am glad this book was carried out this way because I was quickly absorbed into Hosseini’s storytelling.

  18. So.. I totally forgot about this. I tried opening the site thursday but it didn’t open at school so I told myself I’ll do it at home but forgot to make a note for myself. So here I am now barely realizing that I did not post up a comment. Anyway, I’ll still post up my insight about the novel I read, slaughterhouse five. Reading this book for me was a hustle. I didn’t even want to read it. But I still started. Time went by and i finished the book. It was not my favorite but for sure it was the most bizarre book I’ve read so far. The story line keeps on jumping from one story to another which if I wasn’t paying much attention I would’ve been lost. Up until now I am still pondering how is the first chapter connected to the rest of the book? Yes, phrases and words such as “poo-tee-weet?” and “and so it goes” were mentioned throughout the book but I can’t find the continuity from the first chapter to the others. Again, this book is not my favorite but as I go back and reread parts of the book to find quotes, I found myself liking this book. I guess what made me feel like so was the distinct and unique satiric tone that Vonnegut uses. For example, in page 117, a Tralfamadorian said, “That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.” In this quote,Vonnegut successfully ridicules human’s vices making the reader realize his/her actions, which in this case was me. After reading this passage, I realized how I always focus on the negative and bad times without realizing that I just missed a minute that I can never get back because I can’t stop sulking about something that is already in the pass. I can go on and on about how I liked this book, how i finally found it interesting and how it improved my outlook in life but I am sleepy >___<

  19. So I am reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and its has a lot to do with finding your own way and doing what fits with you. The Story is of a young man in Catholic Irish times and he was raised in a very religious household which is his bases for judgement throughout some parts of the book. The book is okay but its something that must be read more than once to make sense of it. The main character thinks of God and his influence in him as a person. He was lead himself astray from the “right path” when he heads to Dublin which is a major city in Ireland. He sleeps with a prostitute(s) in this city which is start of his self redemption. He then gets influenced in this new school by a man of the order. This man speaks of the depth of hell’s terror and pain. This changes how Stephen, the main character, sees life and wishes to cleanse himself of his horrible sin. The book goes on narrating Stephen’s thought and the thoughts themselves are concepts to ponder on.

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